Experimenting with drugs and alcohol is sometimes seen as a teenage “rite of passage,” but it is not as harmless as some teens and adults assume. Teenagers may be more susceptible to addiction than adults because their brains are still developing. To learn about the programs available at our adolescent treatment centers, call Vertava Health today at 888.601.8693.
The Dangers of Teenage Drug Use
According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, half of all teens surveyed as of 2020 reported misusing a drug one or more times. In addition, drug use among eighth graders increased 61% between 2016 and 2020. Marijuana and prescription medications, such as Xanax and Adderall, are among the most frequently misused drugs.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, drugs that affect the brain’s reward center are highly addictive. When a substance forces the body to produce dopamine and other “feel-good” chemicals, the brain responds by craving that substance again.
In balance, those feel-good chemicals are good for the body. They help stabilize mood, relieve pain, and increase relaxation. However, when cravings don’t stop, and substances are used over and over again, addiction develops.
Health Risks of Teenage Drug Use
Human bodies may be mostly developed by age 18, but the brain is still developing until approximately age 25. Misusing substances during the teen years can affect learning, change brain structure, and contribute to poor decision-making.
Other risks of teenage drug use include:
- Increased risky behaviors, such as DUI and unsafe sexual behavior
- Increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure as an adult
- Sleep disturbances
- Increased risk of developing a mental health disorder
- Diminished concentration and memory
- Alcohol poisoning or overdose
- Violent behavior
- Brain damage
The changes in a young person’s body because of substance use may not be obvious initially. Damage to the lungs, brain, skin, and other organs can go undetected for many years until a problem arises.
Other Risks of Teenage Drug Use
The dangers of teenage drug use go beyond health risks. Using drugs can endanger your child now — not just in the future. Additional risks include:
- Poor academic performance
- Social isolation
- Violent behavior
- Legal consequences
Interpersonal relationships can also suffer because of drug use. Teens who use drugs regularly may stop socializing with their old friends, seeking out others who are also using substances.
Talking to Your Teen About Drugs
Talking to your child about the possibility they might be experimenting with drugs or alcohol is not an easy conversation, but it is an important one. Building a trusting relationship with your child will make it easier for them to open up and share the difficult things they’re going through.
Use these tips to encourage more productive conversations with your teen:
- Come from a place of curiosity, not judgment
- Don’t interrupt, even if you’re upset
- Practice active listening to let them know you’re paying attention
- Ask open-ended questions
- Choose a comfortable setting
- Pick a time when no one is in a hurry or has other obligations
When you talk to your teen about sensitive topics, maintain their privacy by sitting down without siblings or other family members.
Questions like, “Do you think it’s alright for teens to use marijuana?” can spark a discussion and show your teen that you’re interested in their viewpoint.
Staying present in your teen’s life by being there for activities, meeting their friends, and communicating with their teachers shows them you are always there for support.
Vertava Health Provides Teen Addiction Treatment Programs
If you have concerns about the dangers of teenage drug use or believe your child is addicted to a substance, Vertava Health is here to help.
We offer comprehensive treatment programs designed for adolescents struggling with addiction and other mental health concerns. Contact Vertava Health today at 888.601.8693 to find out more.